With the cold weather still hanging around, there is an increased risk of frostbite and hypothermia.
 
According to the Canadian Red Cross, exposed skin can cause frostbite in five to ten minutes when temperatures hover between -40 C and -47 C.
 
"The biggest thing to do is try to avoid exposed skin. If you can, wrap up your face and try to protect yourself from the wind," advised Environment Canada meteorologist Kyle Fougere. "If (people) have to be outside, try to take frequent breaks."
 
Frostbite typically occurs in fingers, toes, ears and noses. It often starts with skin appearing paler than usual and then progresses to a white, waxy appearance.
 
Hypothermia is a cold-related emergency that could potentially be life-threatening. Milder symptoms can show in the form of shivering and numbness in fingers and toes, while severe symptoms include the absence of shivering, lack of coordination or speech, confused or unusual behaviour, a glassy stare and slowed breathing.
 
Some prevention tips for both of these cold-related emergencies include:
  • Cover your head.
  • Wear layers of tightly woven fabrics, such as wool or synthetics.
  • Cover up exposed areas such as your fingers, cheeks, ears and nose.
  • If your clothes get wet when you are in the cold, change into dry clothes as soon as possible.
  • Drink plenty of warm fluids to help your body stay warm, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

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